Five Points / Marietta Street / Fairlie-Poplar

Wachovia Bank of Georgia Building
(First National Bank Building)
2 Peachtree Street, NW
1966: FABRAP with Emory Roth and Sons (New York), Architects; Cecil A. Alexander, Designer

Built on the site of the Peachtree Arcade, the forty-one story Wachovia Bank of Georgia Building was the tallest structure in the Southeast at the time of its construction. Its slab like profile and abstract ornamentation is characteristic of late International Style skyscraper design. Emphasizing the vertical thrust of the tower, the unbroken marble columns provide a sharp color contrast with the bronzed aluminum spandrels. A slight horizontal recess defines the top, which houses two mechanical floors.

The project included the drastic remodeling of the existing bank building built in 1903 (with floors added in 1928) at the corner of Peachtree and Marietta streets. In order to allow for an unobstructed view from, and of, the new office tower and to achieve stylistic "harmony" the height of the old structure was reduced by half and refaced in white marble.

William-Oliver Building
32 Peachtree Street, NW
1930: Pringle and Smith, Architects

This sixteen-story steel-frame office building was named for developer Thomas G. Healey's grandsons William and Oliver. The facade of the William-Oliver Building displays a tripartite arrangement. The base is cladding red granite, the larger openings of the first two floors expressing their design for commercial use. The shaft is sheathed in smooth limestone. In order to enhance its vertical thrust, windows at the corner and ends of the building are left unadorned while the six central bays, on Peachtree Street as well as on Marietta Street, are set between cast stone panels in low relief. Art Deco ornamentation is concentration two upper floors, with friezes featuring geometric patterns of chevrons and waves as well as rosettes and other stylized floral arrangements. Characteristically, horizontal divisions are as "superficial" in the quasi-monolithic shaft of the William-Oliver Building as they are strongly marked in the adjoining Nations Bank Building designed almost three decades earlier. On Peachtree Street, a delicate bronze awning leads to the off-center lobby, which has kept its original decoration, with inlaid marble patterns on the floors and fine bass floral ornamentation on the ventilating grilles and elevator doors.

Nations Bank Building
(Citizens and Southern National Bank Building, Empire Building)
35 Broad Street, NW
1901: Bruce and Morgan, Architects, NR. Remodeling of Lower Floors and Interiors 1929: Hentz, Adler and Shutze, Architects; Philip Shutze, Designer

Fourteen stories high, the Nations Bank Building was the first steel-frame structure to be built in Atlanta. Its clear-cut silhouette, simple fenestration, and heavily decorated terra-cotta top bear the influence of the Chicago School. In 1929 the building became the headquarters of the Citizens and Southern National Bank, which asked Philip Shutze to redesign its three lower floors. Because the impression of load-bearing masonry was regarded as better suited for a banking establishment than large glass panes were, the original display windows were replaces by classical motifs apparently "carved out" of Indiana limestone.

Philip Shutze was inspired by Italian Mannerism, and especially by the city gates of Verona by Michele Sanmichelo (1484-1559). As Henry Hope Reed points out, "the bold quoining and voluted keystones of the round-arched bays and the use of rustication and quoining inside the entrance bay result in masterly play of light and shade and convey an imperial bay result in a masterly play of light and shade and convey an imperial sense of scale" (Classical America, p. 18). Notice also how symmetry was restored to the Broad Street facade in spite of the presence of uncentered entrances. Reached from Marietta and Walton streets through lofty arcaded entryways and a more intimate elevator lobby in the early Renaissance style on Broad Street, the banking hall is a long nave articulated by colossal Corinthian pilasters. While its walls and floors feature several kinds of Georgia, Tennessee, and European marbles in a warm gold-brown color scheme, the ceiling, from which hang gigantic chandeliers, is left bare. The Pantheon, which Shutze had measured during his internship at the American Academy in Rome, served as direct source for the pedimented niches (their bases house ventilation ducts) and for the floors with alternate square and circular patterns. Also, of Roman inspiration are the bronze desks and the eagle motif found throughout the design. On the other hand, the officers' area, with its mahogany panels, is decorated in a cozier American Georgia style.

In 1991 Citizens and southern Bank merged with North Carolina National Bank to become Nations Bank, which has moved its Atlanta corporate headquarters to its midtown property. Fortunately the banking hall, in which Shutze demonstrated a "great sense of correctness" and "meticulous attention to details" will remain as one of the greatest of its kind in the United States (Elizabeth Dowling, American Classicist, p. 51).

Forty Marietta Building
(First Federal Savings and Loan Association Building)
40 Marietta Street NW
1964: Tomberlin and Sheetz, Architects; Chastain and Tindel, Structural Engineers

An innovative structural solution gave birth to the unconventional exterior of the seventeen-story Forty Marietta Building. It is supported by six giant pentagonal columns, visible from the exterior of the building, with post-tensioned beams spanning its column-free interior. The exposed curved faces of the deep spandrel beams that ring each floor alternate with ribbon windows in grey-tinted glass. The elevator service tower toward the rear is partly of poured-in-place concrete to stiffen the structure.

Forty-One Marietta Building
(Standard Federal Savings and Loan Building)
41 Marietta Street, NW
1975: Toombs, Amisano and Wells, Architects; GAAIA Award

Bank South Building
(Fulton National Bank Building)
55 Marietta Street, NW
1958: Wyatt C. Hedrick (Dallas) with Wilner and Millkey, Architects

Walton Place
(Georgia Railway and Power Building)
75 Marietta Street, NW
1907: Morgan and Dillon, Architects. Restoration 1988: stand and Newdow, Architects; UDC Award

On the opposite (northern) side of Marietta Street, notice the striking contrast in size and ornamentation between the Forty-One Marietta and the Bank South buildings with their marked horizontal rhythm of ribbon windows, and the brick-and-stone facade of Walton Place (encompassing an entire city block). The latter is an early example of the consolidation of all services in one location for a large utility company.

Healey Building
57 Forsyth Street NW
1913: Bruce and Morgan with Walter T. Downing, Architects; NR. Renovation 1988 Stang and Newdow, Architects; UDC Award

The Healey Building is an elegant office tower, which was named after its developer, William T. Healey, and most likely designed by Walter T. Downing. The vertical thrust of the uninterrupted piers is terminated by a strong projecting cornice. At the time of its construction, the Gothic style of the terra-cotta ornaments was considered the most fashionable for skyscraper design. Notice the unusual design of the slightly projecting display windows on the two-story base in the English perpendicular arcade once extended from Poplar Street completely through the block to Walton Street. Its junction with the elevator lobby facing on Forsyth Street is marked by a rotunda bathed in natural light. This rotunda was intended as a connection to a twin tower on Broad Street, the construction of which was abandoned due to the outbreak of World War I and the death of William T. Healey. The building started to decay when it was sold by the Healey family in 1972. After it was acquired by a Dutch consortium in the mid-1980s, the entire block was restored, with the construction of a well-integrated lobby facing on Broad Street as a continuation of the existing neo-Gothic rotunda.

Two of the Healey Building neighbors are worth mentioning: the monumental United States Eleventh District Court of Appeals, with its fairly heavy-handed Beaux-Arts ornamentation, and the Grant Building, with its neo-Renaissance exterior in limestone and terra-cotta.

United States Eleventh District Court of Appeals
(Federal Courthouse and Post Office)
56 Forsyth Street, NW
1911: James Knox Taylor, Architect. Restoration and Renovation 1987: Robert and Company, Architects

Grant Building
(Grant-Prudential Building)
44 Broad Street, NW
1898: Bruce and Morgan; Architects. Renovation 1980: Toombs, Amisano and Wells, Architects; UDC Award

Muse's Building
(George Muse Clothing Company Building)
52 Peachtree Street, NW
1921: Hentz, Reid and Adler, Architects; Philip Shutze, Designer

This seven-story building was commissioned by the George Muse Clothing Company, which until 1992 operated a store there. The Muse's Building occupies the site of a Confederate arsenal during the Civil War. Since the creation of Woodruff Park, the need for a structure of equal height to abut it to the north on Peachtree Street is all the more obvious. Until that happens, its narrow silhouette will continue to look unexpectedly picturesque. Hentz, Reid and Adler exploited here the same Itlaianate idiom they did in their design for Rich's Department Store. The rusticated base in limestone features large display windows with consoles as keystones, a motif that Shutze repeated in the nearby Nations Bank Building. The entrance on Peachtree Street has since been remodeled. Above this base, elaborate cartouches frame the corner and end windows. The rest of the building is sheathed in plain beige brick and terminated by a richly carved frieze and a cornice supported by brackets.

Flatiron Building
(English-American Building)
84 Peachtree Street Street, NW
1897: Bradford Gilbert, Architect (New York); NR. Renovation 1977-1987: Brisbin, Brook and Beynon, Architects (Toronto); UDC Award

Since the unfortunate demolition of Burnham and Root's original Equitable Building in 1971, the eleven story Flatiron Building is now the oldest skyscraper still standing in Atlanta. Its designer, Bradford Gilbert, was the supervising architect of the 1895 Cotton States Exposition. He is credited with building the first steel-framed skyscraper in the United States - The Tower Building in New York City (1889). The picturesque and uncommon triangular shape of what was originally called the English-American Building was imposed by its location on the narrow corner of Broad and Peachtree streets. Complying with the traditional tripartite composition of the turn-of-the-century skyscrapers, the two lower and the two upper floors are separated from the building's shaft by strongly projecting horizontal bands. Above the colonnaded base, the ornamentation relies on straightforward rhythms created by continuous bay windows and unbroken piers (notice how these piers emphasize the slenderness of the apex). Gilbert's design predates Daniel Burhham's New York Flatiron Building (1901) at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. That landmark became so popular that its Atlanta predecessor adopted the same name between 1916 and 1920, and again during the past decade. Neither the exterior color scheme nor the current decoration of the entrance lobby is original.

Equitable Building
100 Peachtree Street, NW
1968: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Architects (New York Office); FABRAP, Consulting Architects; James Wylie, Landscape Architect

The thirty-five-story Equitable Building occupies the site of the former Piedmont Hotel, which opened in 1903. The office tower's setback position from Peachtree Street allows for the presence of a small triangular piazza, and its dark mass, in sharp contrast with the silhouette of its older neighbors, is very noticeable in the Atlanta skyline. With a clearcut composition stressing the horizontal rhythm of the girders, while strong vertical divisions are placed intentionally far apart, the Equitable Building closely resembles the Chicago Civic Center (1965) and belongs to the family of International Style skyscrapers inspired by Ludwig Mies van de Rohe's Seagram Building (1958) in New York City.

Rhodes-Haverty Building
134 Peachtree Street NW
1929: Pringle and Smith, Architects; NR, LB

Atlanta History Center, Downtown Office
(Hillyer Trust Company Building)
140 Peachtree Street, NW
1911: Hentz, Reid and Adler, Architects; NR. Interior Remodeling 1987: Lord and Sargent, Architects; UDC Award

Named after its developers, furniture magnates AG Rhodes and JJ Haverty, the twenty-one-story Rhodes-Haverty Building was the tallest structure in Atlanta until the construction of the Bank South Building in 1954. The stern gray granite veneer of the tree-story base and neoclassical store entrance are not original to the building, which once featured much larger display windows. In order to enhance the vertical thrust of the Peachtree Street facade, openings at the corner are let unadorned while the four center bays have terra-cotta spandrels contrasting with the buff brick facing. A stringcourse with Art Deco chevron motifs isolates the last three floors from the building shaft. With its arcaded two-story bays, low gable, and corbelled arches punctuating the roofline, the top is reminiscent of Byzantine or early Romanesque architecture. The lobby incorporates walls and floors in travertine, elaborate carved ceilings, and delicately incised elevator doors. The Atlanta History Center, Downtown Office is located in the former headquarters of the Hillyer Trust Company, one of Atlanta's first banking institutions. Badly damaged by weather exposure, the upper six stories of what was conceivably one of the narrowest highrise office buildings in the United States were razed in 1978.

Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library
1 Margaret Mitchell Square
1969-1980: Marcel Breuer and Hamilton smith Associated Architects (New York) with Stevens and Wilkinson, Architects; UDC Award

Margaret Mitchell Square
1986: Joint Venture of Robert and Company with Williams Russell and Johnson, Architects; Kit Tin Snyder, Sculptor; UDC Award

The Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library occupies a full city block and replaced the Carnegie Library (1902), Atlanta's first and probably finest public building in the Beaux-Arts style. The design which was commissioned in 1969 took more than ten years to reach the construction stage and is reminiscent of one of Breuer's better-known compositions, the Whitney Museum in New York City. Both buildings have boldly cantilevered masses pierced by only a few large openings (in Atlanta, offices are grouped around a terrace so that their small windows do not disturb the monumental character of the Peachtree Street elevation). Large precast panels with diagonal striations sheath the exterior. Two floors were added at the back of the building when bids for the construction of the library came in below budget. Landscaped plazas, including Margaret Mitchell Square, have been designed on all sides of the complex street crossing, in order to define and enliven this prominent urban square.